The New Orleans Saints signed paralyzed safety, Devon Walker, on the day of his graduation.
Walker was paralyzed while making a tackle against Tulsa in September of 2012. Despite the terrible incident, Walker has overcome his medical limitations and graduated with a degree in cell and molecular biology; only a year later than originally anticipated.
Walker attended the Saints rookie mini-camp on Saturday and was expecting to go eat oysters upon leaving. Little did he know the surprise awaiting him. He said the signing was a dream come true!
Walker has been an inspiration to many throughout his community. Walker received the Disney Spirit Award in 2013, an award given annually by Disney Sports to college football’s most inspirational figures. He was also honored by the New Orleans Fellowship Foundation when the organiztion renamed one of their annual awards, the “Devon Walker Courage Award.” Finally, Walker was named the 2012 Brandon Burlsworth Courage Award winner.
Saints coach Sean Payton made the following statement:
“When Devon got hurt, his football career was just starting to take off after three years of hard work. Despite the devastating injury he suffered, Devon refuses to let that define him. He is an outstanding young man, who is not only an inspiration to his coaches and teammates at Tulane, but to all of us. Devon’s character, determination, intelligence and work ethic are everything that we look for in a New Orleans Saint when we sign a player. This is the least we can do to recognize Devon and these attributes that we want all of our players to have.”
Walker’s former coach from Tulane, Curtis Johnson also had amazing things to say:
“I would like to congratulate Devon on his graduation and for all his accomplishments. I am very proud of him and I am very happy for his family. This is a first-class move by a first-class organization. The Saints have been very supportive of Devon and I would like to thank Mr. Benson, Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton for allowing Devon to be a part of an NFL team. I believe it once again demonstrates the organization’s commitment to the New Orleans community and to one of its own.”
A thorough account of Walkers story can be read here.